MARINE A, Alexander Blackman from Taunton has had his murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter.
Blackman, 42 shot an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan and has had his murder conviction reduced to manslaughter by five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.
They heard argument on his behalf that fresh psychiatric evidence would have provided him with a diminished responsibility defence.
He will remain in prison for now, and a date for a hearing regarding his release will be announced soon
Speaking outside the court to the media, Blackman's wife Claire said she was delighted at the decision, saying it "much better reflects the circumstances that my husband found himself in during that terrible tour of Afghanistan".
She thanked her legal team and the tens of thousands of supporters, especially those from the Royal Marines family, who she said had supported them throughout.
Freddie Forsyth, who has also been supporting the campaign for Alexander Blackman said it was now down to the media to to continue the fight of the lawyers.
Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow has welcomed the news.
She said: “This is the wonderful news that so many have been waiting for.
"Not least Claire, Sgt Blackman’s dedicated wife who has undergone so much anguish in the last few years.
"I commend the legal team that has worked to get this murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter and all of the massive support team, many from the Commando town of Taunton who have never given up hope.
"I have always called for those defending our peace, protecting our world from evil and giving devoted service to our country to be treated with the fairness and understanding due to them and I am pleased this has prevailed today.”
Here is a timeline of events in the case:
- March - Sgt Blackman deploys to Helmand province with 42 Commando as part of Op Herrick XIV. His unit is sent to Nad-e Ali, where it sees heavy fighting. Several marines are killed, including Sgt Blackman's troop commander, and others are maimed.
- September 15 - Taliban insurgents attack a small British patrol base. The attack is repelled with the aid of a British Apache helicopter gunship. Sgt Blackman and his marines are on patrol and sent to look for the fleeing attackers. They find one, lying gravely wounded, in the middle of a field. Sgt Blackman shoots him in the chest with his pistol. The killing is captured on helmet camera by one of the patrol.
- September - The video of the incident is found on a Royal Marine's laptop during an investigation by civilian police into another alleged crime. A police investigation begins.
- October 11 - Seven unnamed Royal Marines are arrested on suspicion of murder.
- October 23 - Sgt Blackman and two others go on trial at the Court Martial Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire, accused of murder. He is only identified as Marine A and his comrades as Marines B and C. They give evidence from behind screens. All three plead not guilty.
- November 8 - Sgt Blackman is found guilty of murder. The two other marines are acquitted.
- December 5 - A court rules Sgt Blackman, still only known to the world as Marine A, should be stripped of his anonymity.
- December 6 - Sgt Blackman, from Taunton, Somerset, is given a life sentence and told he must serve a minimum of 10 years in a civilian prison.
- May 22 - Sgt Blackman loses a Court of Appeal bid to overturn his life sentence. His minimum term is cut from 10 years to eight.
- September - A high-profile campaign begins to have Sgt Blackman freed, led by his wife Claire.
- December 16 - 1,100 pages of new evidence are handed into the Criminal Cases Review Commission in an attempt to have the conviction sent back to the Court of Appeal.
- December - The CCRC concludes there is a "real possibility" of overturning the conviction, and grants an appeal. Later the same month, the Lord Chief Justice refuses a bid to grant bail, after prosecutors challenge new psychiatric evidence about his mental state at the time of the killing.
- December 21 - Sgt Blackman loses a bid to be released on bail in time for Christmas ahead of his appeal hearing.
- February 7 - Five judges, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Sir Brian Leveson, Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Sweeney, begin hearing an appeal brought by Sgt Blackman to overturn his murder conviction at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.
- March 13 - The Court Martial Appeal Court announces the appeal ruling will be given on March 15.
- March 15 - Sgt Blackman has his murder conviction replaced with manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility by the Court. A new sentence will be set at a later date.